I must admit I am a sucker for tourist traps. I am quickly learning that Oklahoma is a state that has a great deal of history and unique attractions. For example, Oklahoma is home to a fence made of bowling balls and a statue marking the first Girl Scout cookie sale.
I have always enjoyed moving to a new city for the summer and exploring all it has to offer. My favorite aspect of being an intern is the nomadic lifestyle. This is my fifth newspaper internship in a different state. I recently wrote a story that compiled the top 10 most popular summer destinations in Oklahoma. Hardy Watkins, Executive Director of Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation, stressed to Oklahomans to be a tourist in their own state. I couldn’t agree more.
How often have you heard someone say they have lived somewhere their whole life and never visited a famous attraction in their hometown or state? I must admit I am also guilty. Originally from Wyoming, I have only visited Yellowstone National Park once when I was very young. I do not remember much besides seeing a few buffalo on the side of the road. Even when I lived in Kansas City it wasn’t unusual to learn people did not venture far from their neighborhoods.
While here in Oklahoma, I hope to visit many of the sites on this summer’s popular summer destinations, as well as a few of my own. Some on my list include the Jim Thorpe Museum & Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Geronimo’s gravesite in Fort Sill. This past weekend, I took a drive out to Arcadia on Route 66 and visited Pops, a diner offering more than 500 varieties of soda pop. Then I drove an hour and a half north to Fairfax, Okla., home to two of Oklahoma’s Prima ballerinas of Native American descent, Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. While there I watched one of three ceremonial dances hosted by the Osage Nation during the month of June.
When I told some of friends up north I was interning in Oklahoma for the summer, some of their responses were funny. One of my friends said, “You must like sweating in a prairie” and another replied, “Why?” My response was “Why not Oklahoma?” This state has a lot of offer and being somewhat of a history buff and self-proclaimed tourist trap junky, there is a great deal to do and see here. So I guess I will echo the words of Watkins and encourage everyone to explore Oklahoma whether you are new to the state or call it home.